Captain Marvel already boasts a lot of comic book readers as fans. Now, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe who might not be familiar with the character are getting their introduction in the form of Carol Danvers. She’s not the first person to hold the title - far from it. She’s actually sixth in line in Marvel Comics. One of the characters to hold the title before her, and one we just got a movie version of as well, is Monica Rambeau.
Monica is actually the first female character in Marvel Comics to use the codename Captain Marvel. She started using it in 1982 while Carol Danvers didn’t start using it until 2012. The recent Captain Marvel movie makes a few changes to their relationship - including that timeline. Carol (Brie Larson) and Monica (Akira Akbar) are like family in the film, with Monica just eleven years old. Monica even calls Carol “Auntie Carol,” and though she aspires to go to space like her favorite hero, she doesn’t exhibit any super abilities.
In the comics, Monica’s powers involve being able to turn herself into pure energy along the spectrum of light. Since being called Captain Marvel, she’s also been Photon, Pulsar, and Spectrum. Likewise, Carol was Ms. Marvel, Binary, and Warbird before becoming Captain Marvel on the page, leaving a lot of room for changes on the screen.
We’ve taken a look at their relationship on screen and off and brought 25 Wild Revelations About Captain Marvel And Monica Rambeau’s Relationship to you.
In the MCU’s Captain Marvel movie, Monica Rambeau grew up in the '90s. She’s got a deep admiration for Carol Danvers, and her affection manifests in hanging onto all of Carol’s stuff, and referring to her as “Auntie Carol.” Monica explains to Carol that since Carol didn’t get along with her family, the Rambeaus became her family.
It’s a lovely bond for the movie, but it doesn’t exist in the comics. In fact, Monica and Carol only spent a handful of comic book issues in each other’s company. It’s clear that they’re friendly, even if they like to bicker with one another, but their relationship is definitely not familial.
Part of the reason that “auntie” relationship doesn’t exist in the comics is because Carol and Monica are right around the same age. Carol never bonds with Monica’s mother because Maria Rambeau is old enough to be Carol’s own mother.
That means Monica and Carol, with their superpowers and heroic jobs, tend to run in the same circles. They share friends in Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman) and Jessica Jones, as well as allies in members of the Avengers and Alpha Flight. There is, however, no Carol treating Monica like a child in the comics.
Not everyone called Captain Marvel chose the name. In fact, Monica and Carol both had a bit of a complicated history with the title. Neither of them picked the name; it was picked for them.
Members of the press saw Monica Rambeau using her powers during a fight. They dubbed her Captain Marvel, likely because of the similarity in the use of energy blasts. The name stuck. Likewise, Carol Danvers only took on the name after Captain America publicly referred to her as Captain Marvel, practically giving her no choice but to accept the title.
Unlike nearly anyone else in Marvel Comics to use the name Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau had no personal stake in the name. She boasted no connection to the original hero.
The Kree Mar-Vell was the first in Marvel Comics to use the name. It was actually as an homage to him that Carol originally used the name Ms. Marvel. His children Phyla-Vell and Genis-Vell both took on the name to honor him. Monica happened to end up with the name by chance, leaving her to be the only one without that personal connection to it. She was, however, one of the people to use the name the longest.
Despite holding the Captain Marvel title for over a decade, Monica willingly relinquished it so someone else could use it. That someone was Genis-Vell.
Genis-Vell was Mar-Vell’s son, though an unconventional one. He was artificially created from Mar-Vell’s DNA. Wanting to live up to his father’s legacy, he decided to use the name Captain Marvel. That decision, and his immature behavior, initially put him and Monica at odds. After a long talk, Monica agreed to stop using the name so he could carry on his father’s legacy.
Monica Rambeau has had a lot of codenames over the years. In addition to Captain Marvel, she’s used Photon, Pulsar, Spectrum, and even gone without a codename. Apparently, she still holds an attachment to her first superhero moniker.
In the 2016 Ultimates series, she let it slip to Carol Danvers that she found out the latter changed her name from a Google alert for Captain Marvel. We have to wonder if Monica has an alert set up for all of her old codenames, or if this one is just special.
Carol became Ms. Marvel first. When she did, it was during the women’s liberation movement. Comic book creators wanted to signify that she was her own person, and they used the “Ms.” to do it. The honorific became a popular way to address single women without, what some saw as, the demeaning “Miss.”
Monica was the first woman to be called Captain Marvel. She was also the first African-American Avenger when she accepted the name, and the first African-American to lead the team.
For both Carol and Monica, becoming a hero with the name Marvel in their title made a significant statement.
After a traumatic fight in the water left her nearly powerless and recuperating with her mother for months, Monica and the ocean weren’t the best of friends. Using her ability while in (or under) water scares her.
Not someone who likes to admit her weaknesses to anyone, Monica did admit her fears to Carol Danvers. During the 2012 Captain Marvel series, the former Captain teamed up with the current one to investigate disappearing boats in Louisiana. While Carol didn’t entirely understand Monica’s fear of working underwater, she didn’t give Monica a hard time about it, and she lent her own powers to the mission to help.
If there’s one thing Captain Marvel is known for these days, it’s that her sarcastic quips rival that of Iron Man himself. Carol isn’t the only one who uses sarcasm to deflect when she’s in a tight spot. That’s one thing she and Monica have in common.
In fact, when Captain Marvel and Spectrum teamed up in Louisiana, readers were in for a treat. Despite Monica’s fears and Carol’s cockiness in the situation, they spent the two issues trading quips and revealing just how worried they were. The back and forth between the two is a fun way to alleviate a stressful battle, and one comic book readers would love to see more of.
In the live action movie, Carol Danvers refers to Monica Rambeau as Lieutenant Trouble. It’s a cute nickname, and the nicknames didn’t stop once the cameras weren’t rolling.
In an interview with Shadow And Act, Akira Akbar explained that she bonded with Brie Larson and Lashana Lynch, who played her mother, right away. Not only did she spend a lot of time with both of them off set, but Larson even gave her a nickname. Not as long winded as Lieutenant Trouble, Larson simply called Akbar “Sis” when they weren’t recording. It sounds like even the actors are like family.
Spectrum’s true “ability” is that she’s a being of pure energy. Monica has to focus to maintain her own human form. That means turning into other energy is actually easier for her than appearing as “normal” and walking down the street most days.
Since she knows that Carol Danvers absorbs energy and converts it into blasts during a fight, Monica once decided to use her own powers to Carol’s advantage. She actually transformed herself into electricity, allowing Carol to absorb her and then fire her at an enemy. It’s a strange way to spend time with your friends, but at least they won the fight.
Both Monica and Carol have made their way through a lot of superhero teams. Some of Monica’s teams have been clandestine, like Secret Avengers, or implanted in her head, like Nextwave, but she and Carol didn’t team up on those.
Instead, the first time they were on the same team, at the same time, for a prolonged mission, was the Ultimates. They were both a part of the team for the 2016 series. The team primarily consisted of Captain Marvel, Spectrum, Blue Marvel, Black Panther, and Miss America. They had assists from others as they solved seemingly impossible problems, but Carol and Monica formed the real backbone of the team.
Though there wasn’t an official leader of the Ultimates, one person did the recruiting for the team. Carol Danvers brought the group together. Interestingly, the first person she approached was Black Panther, who then led her to Blue Marvel, who then led her to Spectrum, who suggested Miss America.
Also interesting? When Spectrum was suggested to Carol, Carol already had her in mind for the team. It looks like Carol was interested in working with the former Captain Marvel for a while. She approached Spectrum while helping her out in a battle, and the two decided solving large scale problems was better than fighting.
Because Monica uses her ability to change her body into different forms of energy, she’s able to make light appear as she wishes as it refracts or reflects off her form. As a result, she can change what other people see to a certain degree.
Carol found that out first hand when Monica decided to act as her reflection while the two bounced ideas back and forth. For Carol, it wasn’t exactly amusing, but Monica admitted she really just wanted to see what it would be like once the idea entered her head. At least now we know if there’s more than one Captain Marvel in the comics at the same time, it might not be a shapeshifting Skrull.
Carol and Monica’s versions of Captain Marvel both have a reputation for being confrontational. That isn’t entirely true, though. While they both don’t stand for being treated poorly, they don’t go into a situation looking for a fight.
Part of the reason they’re both drawn to life as a hero is the adventure of it - not the fight.
In fact, that’s what had them most interested in being members of the Ultimates. The two were excited to explore new places, like the “nothing” that existed between realities, and find peaceful solutions to problems.
Despite not intentionally being confrontational, Carol and Monica do butt heads on occasion. Those occasions tend to be when they can’t figure out who’s really in charge.
Both women are used to being the person running point on a mission. When it’s just the two of them teaming up, they’re fine; they simply take turns making plans and giving orders. It’s when they’re both on a larger team, like the Ultimates, that it becomes a problem.
Of course, with the Ultimates, there was no real team leader, causing everyone on the team to think they were in charge at different times.
One of the biggest Marvel Comics events was Civil War, in which Captain America and Iron Man faced off about superhero registration. Recently, Captain Marvel and Iron Man found themselves on opposing sides of a new issue in Civil War II.
Captain Marvel believed in the gifts of an Inhuman named Ulysses. He had prophetic visions. She wanted to use those visions to help get ahead of crime. Iron Man disagreed, believing they should let events play out. While some of Captain Marvel’s Ultimates teammate sided with Iron Man, Monica shared Carol’s view, that horrible acts should be prevented. Carol and Monica saw using Ulysses’ gifts as ending wars before they could start.
When filming on location, anything can happen. The stars of Captain Marvel found that out when they started working in Louisiana. The first few days of filming there, according to Brie Larson, involved a lot of sudden rain.
Larson filmed flashback sequences with Akira Akbar’s younger sister Azari as Monica. When the rain got too bad to film, Larson, the Akbar sisters, and Lashana Lynch all waited it out in Larson’s car. In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Larson revealed the wait in the car was spent just goofing off and “singing.” That seems like a great way for actors to bond.
Monica and Carol both boast membership to the Avengers on their superhero resume. They weren’t, however, involved with the group at the same time.
Instead, Carol spent some time with the team when she was Ms. Marvel. After, she went on adventures with the X-Men for a while, and even worked with the Guardians of the Galaxy. She’s come back to the Avengers off and on, but never stuck it out with them.
Monica joined the Avengers when the press started calling her Captain Marvel. She trained with Wasp, and took over leadership duties when Wasp left. Eventually, she left the team, just like Carol, but returned off and on when they asked.
Some superheroes are in it for the glory. Most superheroes, however, get into the gig because they just can’t help wanting to help. Monica and Carol are very much the latter.
While both women have been jealous of other people’s power sets at times, the truth is they were both heroes before they ever put on a superhero uniform. Carol was in the Air Force and Monica worked for the police department. They both have an intense need to help and do the right thing. When they team up and one of them takes a huge risk, neither of them fight it, but understand what the other wants to do.
While Lieutenant Trouble might be a cute nickname for a rambunctious daughter of an Air Force pilot, it also serves as a double comic book Easter egg.
When Monica Rambeau got her superpowers in the comics, she was in law enforcement. In fact, she was a lieutenant for the New Orleans Police Department. She worked in Harbor Patrol, a job she kept even after gaining superpowers. When Carol Danvers officially became Captain Marvel, she had a neighbor with a young daughter. Carol affectionately called her “Lieutenant Trouble” in the comics.
The nickname becoming Monica’s in the Captain Marvel movie acts as a reference to both of those comic book pieces.
Because the Captain Marvel name has such a long legacy, there are always discussions about the name being passed on.
When Monica first took on the name, she didn’t know about Mar-Vell, or his legacy in the superhero community. The press started calling her the name, and when she learned who it belonged to first, she thought about giving it up. It was Fantastic Four’s Thing who convinced her to keep it before she passed it on to Genis-Vell much later.
Carol considered taking the name for a long time, afraid of what it meant to have to live up to someone else’s legacy, but Captain America convinced her to take it.
Sometimes, the person taking on the Captain Marvel name doesn’t think all angles of the legacy through. Carol and Monica didn’t have a discussion about Carol’s name change for a while after it happened.
Monica told Carol she “should have called,” when she decided to change her name to Captain Marvel. While Carol didn’t think Monica would care since she’s already been through so many code-names, Monica retaliated by calling her, “Ms. Captain Warbird Binary Marvel.” Carol understood her even better when Monica pointed out it would be like one of them dating the other’s ex. It’s nice to get a head’s up before it actually happens.
Carol grew up in a household where her father didn’t believe she was as good as the boys. He gave her brother every opportunity, but barred her from even trying. As a result, Carol pushed herself harder, entered the Air Force, and became a superhero.
Monica, on the other hand, grew up with a very protective mother and father. When her mother discovered Monica was an Avenger, she actually intercepted phone calls so Monica wouldn’t have to aid anyone, and she wouldn’t get hurt.
Two very different parenting styles created complicated family relationships, but it also made it easier for the two to relate to one another.
When Captain Marvel made the jump to the big screen, it was the Carol Danvers version. That didn’t sit well with some comic book fans since she was sixth in line at the title. It was even worse for fans of Monica Rambeau though.
Many fans dislike the relationship between Monica and Carol on screen because it erases Monica’s comic book history as the first female Captain Marvel. The story on the screen also doesn’t allow Monica’s legacy as an African-American woman who made it into the Avengers on her own to shine. Some fans have called it racist that a Black superhero became a child hero worshiping a Caucasian hero instead.
Did you learn anything new about Monica Rambeau’s relationship with Captain Marvel (and Carol Danvers)? Did we leave something out you think fans should know? Let us know in the comments.